About Sherpa Peoples
Sherpa peoples are an ethnic group of people who reside in the mountains of Nepal, central Asia. Sherpa is an easterner indigenous people, live in the eastern part of Nepal. The word Sherpa is combined with two words –“Shyar” (east), “pa” (people) which denotes people of east and these words are coined from the Tibetan language. About 3000 of Nepal’s more than 10,000 Sherpa people resides in the Khumbu Valley, the gateway to the southern side of Mount Everest. Tengboche is known as the oldest Sherpa village in Nepal.
In the other countries like China, Bhutan and the Indian states of Sikkim and the northern portion of West Bengal, Sherpa people reside. The language of Sherpa people belongs to the south beach of the Tibet-Burman language and it is a mixed eastern Tibet (Khamba) and central Tibetan dialects. So, this is the separate language from Lhasa Tibetan and unintelligible to Lhasa speaker. In these recent years, the number of Sherpa people migrating to western countries has significantly increased, especially in the United States. In the New York City, the population of sherpas community is approximately 3,000.
Sherpas are also known as the backbone of climbing expeditions. In the most recent sense, the term refers to a variety of ethnic groups in the region who have exhibited excellent trekking skills and mountaineering. As sherpas have accepted mountaineering as a way of life. They never let down their respect for the mountains. From the fear of God, they have attempted to prevent foreign climbers from engaging in profaning activities of polluting like as killing animals and burning garbage.
Various expeditions weren’t attempt until 1953 that Edmund Hillary and Sherpa named Tenzing Norgay managed to reach the 29,028 foot which is 8,848-meter peak of Mount Everest. So, after 1953 most of the climbers have wanted the same achievements. Because of these number of Sherpa as guides and porters increases.
- History:-The Sherpa people are the Normadic people. According to the oral history of Sherpa, four groups of Sherpa people migrated out of the Solukhumbu at different time intervals. They give rise to the four Sherpa clans: Minyagpa, Thimmi, Sertawa, and Chawa. These four groups of Sherpa which were split since in more than 20 different kingdoms still existing today. Sherpa people of Khumbu attained autonomy within the newly formed Nepali state. After that, the Nepali government influence on the growth of Sherpa People. In 1976 Khumbu became a national park and tourism became a major economic force. Nepal Ethnographic museum recently studies that, present-day Nepal has become an integral part of the kingdom of Nepal. From ancient times, other indigenous people like Sherpa, Kirant, Nepalese tribes, gonna move from place to place inside Himalayan region surviving as Alpine Pastoralists and traders.
- Religion:- The Sherpa people belongs to the Nyingmapa sect of Buddhism. It is an ancient school of Buddhism. Sherpa people inhabit the regions surrounding Mount Everest, are well known in the west as a rugged mountain population, following the religious culture of Tibetan Buddhism. In the tribal and clan legend, the origin of the Buddha’s religion among the Sherpa people are lost. However, Sherpa people are young people. Early in the nineteenth century only with the ancestor, the historical records become clearer and after that Sherpa Buddhism acquires some of the features it has retained today. Shortly before 1850 Sherpa Buddhism adopted its modern form, then a number of Sherpa village priests traveled to Tibet to study with great Trakar Choki Wangchuk. It is a well-known figure from Tibetan Biographical as well as historical literature of the period. Products of literature and Erudite religious culture are the tradition of Sherpa people. By the growth of Sherpa agriculture and economy, they started to engage in trade. In the resulting involvement of Sherpa people in India Tibet trades in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Some of the Sherpa people were full-time traders. As they realize that business is profitable, they do demand of patronage of the religious culture which symbolizes first and foremost by the written scripture. In south-central Solu in the village of Gole, nearly during the 1890s, the first Sherpa woodblocks for printing books in Nepal were carved. According to the suggestion of workmanship, the worker does not have any special skills of carving but imitate Tibetan xylographs using their ordinary woodworking skills. It is said that during the sixties and seventies, a rapid culture deterioration occurred in some communities. Khumbu has been improved which is a touristic district. Skilled craft man of Khumbu district now has earned their livelihood by producing tourist art like woodblock prints of Spiderman for the Kathmandu marketplace.
- Social gatherings: –A Sherpa community is very famous for together on their special occasions, with the purpose of gaining favor with the community and neighbor. In this community, they invite their guest before some hours. Small children host the party which helps in reducing the chances of rejection. In the occasion, the people of this community are seats to the order of their status. As people of lower status seats near the door whereas people of higher status seats near the fireplace and the women seats randomly without ordering. It would be good to sit in the proper place instead of hosting the proper of people. In the party first, they served beers several hours only. After several hours of dancing and singing before people start to drift out from the place. So, after the end of the party by expecting the hospitality done by the host with the serving of food and alcohol to be repaid.
- Language:- A dialect of Tibetan, the language of the Sherpas called Sherpa. Although it is borrowed from the neighboring languages. The Sherpa people use the script of Tibetan for writing. All the people living in Nepal does not know the Sherpa language so they use the Nepali language because it is a common language in case of dealing.
- Folklore:– Folklore is the unique creature in the Sherpa community. Especially Sherpa people are live in the mountainous region so this type of creature is found there but it is very rare. Yeti is the name of this unique creature. In the west region, it is known by Abominable Snowman. Yetis were used to be more in numbers in the past and used to hunt the humans. So the villagers made the plan to eliminate those yetis. One day villagers gathered and went at the top of the mountain along with all weapons and maize beer (local wine). They treated as they are fighting with each other by weapons and went back to their settlements but left all the weapons there. Yetis had watched all the scene of the day and repeat the same activity because of that maximum yetis were dead and left are very few. Now they rarely come out to hunt human beings.
- Major Holidays:- The major festivals of Sherpa are Losar, Dumje and Mani Rimdu. Losar festival falls at the end of February. It marks the beginning of the New Year in the calendar of the Tibetan. With much feasting and drinking, dancing and singing the Tibetan people celebrate their New Year. Dumje is such a festival which is celebrated for the well being of Sherpa community like for the prosperity, good health and general welfare of the Sherpa community. This festival falls in the month of July. After finishing the agricultural works, the trading expeditions to Tibet have returned when Sherpa people are preparing to take they’re held into the high pasture. Over the periods of seven days Sherpa community visits to their local monasteries and offer prayers to their gods. There is fun and enjoy by feasting and drinking also the children of younger generation take part dancing and singing. Similarly, Mani Rimdu is the colorful festival of Sherpa community which held four times in a year. In this festival, monks wear colorful costumes and elaborate masks impersonate gods and demons. They perform the religious dance in hope of scaring the evil spirits.
- Rites of passage:– Naming ceremony of the newly born child in the Sherpa community is a special and important event. The local Lama which is the priest of Buddhist spiritual leader. They inform about the newly born child and the time that is occurred. So, on the basis of this information, the priest determines the name of the child and about the day when the naming ceremony should be held. In Sherpa community, people often named their child by the names of the days of the week like a child named on Friday is named ‘Pasang’ which is Sherpa word for Friday. They invite their friends and relatives to enjoy the ceremony. Children of this community usually are brought up by their mothers whereas men are often away from home for many years. Boys or lads of this community have much freedom for leisure and play but girls are introduced to household chores at an early age. Boys of this community will also have to go through an initiation ceremony between 7 and 9 years of age. It is also presided by Lama with feasting and drinking. Bakkhu is the name of dress of Sherpa. This dress covers all the body parts of them from head to toe which is thick and woolen.
- Living Conditions:– Village of Sherpa is at the sides of Sheer Mountain slopes or sit on the top of steep escarpments. More than a hundred houses of Sherpa settlements range from villages with a few houses to towns like Khumjung. The houses of the higher elevations are built in the middle of its owner’s field, where more flat lands are available. However, all the houses are clustered together in one group in the middle of the agriculture land of the village. The village is larger so they have a community temple, a community mill, and religious monuments called stupas and Chorten. There are very less proper roads. So they transport their goods either by animals or by themselves. The houses of Sherpa community are made up of heavy stones with flat roofs and usually made of woods. The lower level of the house is used for house livestock, fodder, food and firewood whereas upper story holds the living quarters. The floors of their rooms are made up of wooden. They do not use any furniture, platforms. They use benches for sitting and sleeping. For an altar small area of the house is set aside. They use the lamp to light up their houses.
- Family Life:– There are numbers of the clan in Sherpa community. If anyone wanted to marry then they have to marry outside his or her clan. The clans of Sherpa people fall into two groups. If anyone from the higher standard marries to lower one it is supposed to lose the standing. Sherpa people choose their own marriage partners. The marriage process of them are long it can take several years. According to their tradition, one can live to the parent house of fiancée between in these days. After they make their strong bonding they fixed the date of marriage. Same like South Asian, the families of Sherpa are small.
- Employment:– The traditional activities of Sherpa people are agriculture and trades. At the lower elevation of Khumbu district, Sherpa people grow maize, barley, buckwheat, and vegetables. Potato is the mainstay or diet of Sherpa people. Sherpa people of Khumbu raise cattle and the yaks. Yaks provide wools as well as milk by which they made butter and sold or bartered with grains. Products like salt, sheep wool, meat, and yaks are still brought from Tibet to Nepal for the exchange of food grains, rice, butter, and other manufactured goods. The Sherpa people are known as excellent porters and guides on mountain climbing and trekking expeditions. So, it has helped them to bring a new source of income and comfortable living.
So, this is all about the Sherpa people of Nepal. They are mostly known as the mountain climber. As they live in the snowy place they have red chick which makes them adorable.